|10th-ranked Lions look to win the North outright by closing out regular season at Mississippi Delta|
Kickoff time for the contest is set for 6 p.m. at Jim Randall Field.
SCOOBA, Miss. – Bidding for the school’s first-ever outright MACJC North Division football championship, the 10th-ranked East Mississippi Lions (7-1, 5-0) close out the regular season by traveling to Moorhead to take on divisional foe Mississippi Delta (4-4, 2-3) Saturday evening.
Riding the school’s longest in-season winning streak since 1969, coach Buddy Stephens’ Lions claimed their sixth consecutive victory with last Saturday’s 40-34 triumph over Itawamba in a contest played in West Point. Having moved up three places to 10th nationally in this week’s NJCAA/JC Football.com Top 20 rankings, East Mississippi’s lone setback of the campaign was a 23-19 road loss to now-No. 8 Jones County during the second week of the season on Sept. 6. EMCC’s most recent eight-win season on the field came in 1974 when coach Bill Buckner guided the Lions to an 8-2 overall record. Coach Tom Goode’s 1996 EMCC squad claimed an 8-2 overall mark, but one of those wins came by way of a forfeit after dropping a 28-21 home decision to Hinds during the third week of the season.
Along with ranking as one of the nation’s highest scoring teams in averaging 36.1 points per contest, East Mississippi continues to stand as the NJCAA’s team leader in passing offense and total offense at 313.4 and 480.9 yards per game, respectively. Defensively as a team, the Lions rate fourth nationally in team passing defense while allowing an average of only 115 passing yards an outing and giving up but seven passing touchdowns on the year. Nine EMCC defenders have also totaled 17 interceptions for the season.
Individually, EMCC’s potent offensive attack is ignited by national offensive player of the year candidate Randall Mackey, who continues to ascend the nation’s passing offense and total offense statistical categories by averaging 282.9 passing yards and 332 yards of total offense a game. The freshman signal-caller from Bastrop (La.) High School has thrown for 2,263 yards and 18 touchdowns on 63-percent accuracy, while also averaging nearly 50 rushing yards per contest.
Led by sophomores Montrez Mosley of Meridian and Starkville’s Mike Outlaw with 37 and 34 receptions, respectively, East Mississippi features five players with at least 20 catches on the year. Sophomore Leon Berry follows with 30 grabs, in addition to running back one kickoff return and one punt return for touchdowns this season. Freshman Pat Shed of Starkville anchors EMCC’s ground game by ranking third in the MACJC in both rushing (75.9 yards per game) and scoring by non-kickers with 60 points.
East Mississippi will be looking to snap a nine-game series losing skid against Mississippi Delta Saturday night in Moorhead. With EMCC’s most recent win over the Trojans coming in 1998 (12-6 in Scooba), the last two meetings have been decided by five total points. Delta prevailed, 24-20, in Moorhead last season and two years ago in Scooba by a 14-13 tally.
In addition to securing EMCC’s first-ever perfect season in North Division play, a win Saturday over Mississippi Delta would give the Lions their first outright North championship since the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges officially went to divisional play in 1970. Most recently, coach Randall Bradberry’s 1984 EMCC club shared a divisional title with Mississippi Delta, but earned the No. 2 seed in the state playoffs because Delta had the better overall record. Ten years earlier, coach Bill Buckner’s 1974 Lions tied Itawamba with identical 8-2 overall records and 5-1 division marks, but fell to the Indians, 29-9, during the season. In 1970, East Mississippi and East Central both finished 5-1 in North Division play, but ECCC earned the trip to the state championship contest by winning a coin toss.
Set to host their first-ever MACJC state football playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 1, against second-seeded Pearl River from the South Division, the Lions will be making their first playoff appearance since 1984, when they dropped a 50-7 road decision to eventual national champion Mississippi Gulf Coast at Biloxi’s Municipal Stadium. Kickoff time for next Saturday’s playoff contest at Sullivan-Windham Field on the Scooba campus is set for 2 p.m. Ticket prices will be $10 for adults and $5 for students. Tailgating for football fans is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. until game time at Aust Hall next Saturday. As a special attraction, student artwork, including those from EMCC student-athletes, will be on display inside Aust Hall as well as on the lawn in front of the building.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 24 October 2008 )|
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